We have curated 10 stories from across the Philanthropy Weekly journey in honour of our 300th edition, capturing a range of responses, innovations, advocacy and thinking across the landscape of philanthropic activity during the lifetime of our weekly newsletter. Perhaps most tellingly, the stories also underline philanthropy’s telling role across the climate emergency, the Black Summer of bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
What the process of selecting these stories reveals is not just the sheer breadth of philanthropy – its engagement, transformative power, and impact – but also how much of this important activity occurs away from the glare of mainstream debate: it is vital work that deserves to be celebrated and encouraged.
We tell these stories in a range of forms – from turning a spotlight on our members, to publishing blogs about current issues and thinking in philanthropy, to releasing podcasts that provide insights not only about philanthropic practice but also about some of the untold stories of how philanthropy has made a difference at critical times, both nationally and at a local level.
Read the 10 stories below:
You don’t need to be mega-wealthy to make a difference
An interview with John Grenshaw, May 2018
Retired financial adviser, John Grenshaw, is among a growing number of unassuming philanthropists who are quietly demonstrating that philanthropy doesn’t have to be a complicated exercise requiring a billion-dollar bank account.
Why foundations can afford to fail often and badly
Diana Leat, November 2018
World-renowned philanthropy researcher, Dr Diana Leat, says it’s time philanthropy challenged the media narrative of immediacy in response to natural disasters and emergency events. She cautions philanthropic foundations to beware of the danger of being “permanently successful” and ardently believes philanthropy’s greatest asset isn’t the money, but its ability to go faster than public opinion.
Football’s ugliest moment becomes a national debate
Ian Darling says he’s nervous. Still nervous after more than 12 months of engaging with the Australian Football League, its 18 clubs, Indigenous footballers, more than 20 Indigenous organisations, educators, schools and members of the philanthropic community about his latest film.
Changing the rules to change a life
Last month, Max Elliott started work experience at the Ruggers restaurant attached to the Brothers Rugby Union club in Brisbane. Max will be 17 in April and has spent a fair deal of teenage years at the club. He knows the club pretty well: it’s down the hill from his home and he’s played a lot of rugby there. But it’s not rugby as many players know it and Max is not your average teenager.
The power of local funds to ease the impact of national health crisis
In Perth and across the broader south-west of the nation, the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, is being funded to deliver food and hygiene parcels to thousands of Aboriginal clients through a collective of 18 local member Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
Changing the prison system for mums and their kids
The situation is bleak and confronting: a woman goes to jail, often for a victimless crime, and leaves a family at home, her children either looked after by a relative or in foster care. Once that step is taken, a whole range of possibilities – only some of them good – can follow, but most of them are about the emotional and even physical distance between the kids and their mum.
Making the case for biodiversity and impact investing
The voice is calm and reflective. Nigel Sharp is someone who has the sound of the country in what he says, the way people raised on the land used to speak – unhurried, unfussed, uncomplicated. But Nigel’s message is anything but old-fashioned: it is, in fact, full of the urgency of the environmental challenges confronting the globe and finding new ways to support regenerative agriculture and biodiversity.
Now we’re talking – about race, power, equity and justice
Edgar Villanueva says you would never have heard the words 'white supremacy' or 'decolonization’ at a philanthropy conference three years ago. Yet in two months’ time, the philanthropic activist and author of Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to heal Divides and Restore Balance, will be a keynote speaker at Philanthropy Australia’s conference.
The view from our next generation of advocates
What do young advocates want from philanthropy? Where is philanthropy’s place in helping to prioritise the national needs? How can philanthropy be part of building a sustainable and inclusive future for Australia? In a two-part series, we publish a diverse range of views from young advocates addressing Philanthropy Australia’s conference theme – Future Needs Now?
“How often can you get a half a billion dollar return on a $100,000 grant?"
Almost 12 months ago, the head of The Origin Foundation, Sean Barrett, had a telephone conversation with the then-CEO of The Grattan Institute, John Daley. Once the pleasantries had been exchanged, the conversation quickly focused on the Foundation’s concern at the potential impact the COVID-19 pandemic’s gathering momentum would have on the education of the nation’s disadvantaged children.
Each of these stories has the potential to inspire others and add a deeper dimension for those who took part in the original experience. In an era when so much of what is shared is ephemeral and instant, we believe our stories have the potential to build stronger connections across our sector, by sharing those moments that matter, and providing opportunities for others to apply, adapt and implement what others have learned to help drive social impact.
So, please revisit these stories from the recent past, and rest assured that Philanthropy Weekly’s commitment to sharing these moments is as vibrant now as it was with our first edition: in fact, it feels like we’re just getting started!
Nick Richardson, Storyteller, Philanthropy Australia